Beauty And The Bath

Ancient Egyptian Makeup And Cosmetics For Your Costumes

It's the night of the big event, and you're peering in the mirror, making sure that your lipstick is on right and trying to make that you are treading that very fine line between deliciously glamorous and circus clown.


It sounds like just one more Friday night on the town, but the truth is, this scene is easily one that could have taken place in the ancient cities of Cairo and Thebes during the reign of the pharaohs.

Egyptians considered themselves the most civilized people in the world, and for those who were looking to make a real name for themselves, male or female, they never would have left the house without their face on! 

Egyptian art is highly representative; from the way things are drawn, it is hard to draw definite conclusions about what might be makeup and what might be artistic convention, but there are still a few things that we can learn from the famous hieroglyphics and tomb decorations.

When you are looking at the paintings, one of the first thing that will catch your gaze is the dark outline around the eyes of the people depicted. In fact, this dark outline with a tail that stretches from the outer corner of the eye to the temple, is of the most recognizable things about Egyptian art.

When we look at this dark line, we can guess that the Egyptians prized almond shaped eyes with thick dark lashes, but the reality goes far beyond that for ancient Egyptian makeup.

ancient egyptiam makeup toolsFor the most part, ancient Egyptian makeup, much like our own today, was completely optional. While for some people -the movie stars, politicians and socialites of the day - it was part of their charm and part of their public face, for others, it was a special indulgence that they put on when they had the time and when they needed to look especially attractive.

The exception to this seems to have the use of pigments and oils, which served the ancient Egyptians much as eyeliner serves us today.

The ancient Egyptians had two types of pigments that they would commonly use to give themselves the distinctive dark lines around their eyes. The first was made of malachite that had been ground up very fine; it was associated with the goddess of love, known as Hathor, and it produced a lovely opaque green.

The second was made from galena, a lead ore, which would make a very solid black. These pigments were kept in a small container, along with a little bit of oil, and when they were applied in the morning, the oil and the pigment would be mixed together and applied.

As these pigment holders were found in the graves of even the very poor, it ancient egyptian makeup toolscan be seen that people thought a great deal about their eyes, both in an aesthetic sense, and, as some Egyptologists have guessed, in a spiritual sense.

You probably already know that your skin is one of the leading indicators of your health; when it looks dull and lifeless, you can look years older and quite tired.

This is a fact that the ancient Egyptians, who lived in a fairly harsh, hot environment, thought of, and they took some great pains to make sure that that their skin stayed as supple as it could.

Oil formed the base for many different cosmetic treatments, whether it was used on its own to soften the skin or used in conjunction with a metallic pigment to add some color.

One pigment that might have been used in the basic foundation or to add some bright color to the cheeks or lips was dyer's alknet, a plant which could produce colors ranging from reds to purples and which is often seen in trace amounts in ancient cosmetic kits.

Given the fact that galena and malachite are ores of lead and copper, you can think of the ancient Egyptian as some of the earliest users of mineral makeup!

egyptian-eye-makeupAncient Egyptian Cosmetics

When you are thinking about makeup, it's hard to ignore the presence of perfumes and colognes, which can give a person a hint of mystery, playfulness or allure. The Egyptians were certainly aware of this, and they were known all over the ancient world for their excellent scents, some of which could last for eight years after application!

Perfumes were mostly derived from plants, including henna, cinnamon, roses and bitter almonds. It was fairly common for wealthy ladies to have scents mixed up especially for them in order to convey just the perfect image.

When Cleopatra sailed to meet Marc Antony, her barge was so laden with flowers and perfume that the fragrance was said to have shown up long before she did.

ancient-egyptian-eye-makeupAncient Egyptian Eyeliner

When you are thinking about trying out an Egyptian look, try applying your eyeliner the way an Egyptian would have. Start by using an eyeliner pencil to give yourself a bold thick line around the eyes.

Don't worry about being excessive, simply get the pigment on your eyelids as thickly as you can without smudging. Then, use the eyeliner pencil to cover the tip of a q-tip with color. You can also dab the q-tip with a very small amount of liquid eyeliner.

Press the q-tip gently against the outer corner of your eye without poking yourself, and close your eye tight. Steadily, drag the q-tip away from your eye, across to your temple. This is quickest way to get the even lines and startling effect that the ancient Egyptians enjoyed.

Remember to experiment with the eyeliner to make it look just the way that you want it to. If you find that you don't like black, try mixing in a little bit of green, to simulate the malachite. In one recent archaeological find, the Egyptologists found a makeup container with slots and spaces for over thirty different pigments and oils.

Ancient Egyptian Makeup - Ancient Egyptian Cosmetics
It's easy to see that makeup was personal thing to them, and it can be for you as well. Take some time to experiment; you can bet that if an ancient Egyptian man or woman had access to our blush, eyeshadow and nail polish that they wouldn't have hesitated for a moment!




Ancient Egyptian Hand Mirrors
Mirrors were made from metals:
bronze, brass

Ancient Egyptian Makeup
Ancient Egyptian Cosmetics

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